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Inclusion Spotlight - Special Olympics Minnesota - Episode 27

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4:58 minInclusion Spotlight - Special Olympics Minnesota - Episode 27

Inclusion Spotlight - Special Olympics Minnesota - Episode 27

Today on PACERTalks About Bullying, we are excited to continue the conversation on inclusion with a partner spotlight! This week’s episode features an interview with Nick from Special Olympics Minnesota, as he shares more about its programs and why inclusion is such an important issue.

  • Author: NBPC
  • Duration: 4:58 minutes
  • Date Posted: 3/14/2018

Series: PACERTalks About Bullying - Season 1

We are so excited to be launching our brand new series, PACERTalks About Bullying, where each week we will be talking about all things bullying. In our first episode, we’ll share more about PACER Center and what we do.


Hey there, welcome back to PACERTalks About Bullying, I'm Bailey, we're glad you're here.

This month we're talking all about inclusion. In this week's episode we are so excited to have Nick with us from Special Olympics and he's going to share a little bit more with us about inclusion. Let's get into the video. So, this week we are so excited to have Nick on PACERTalks About Bullying, thanks for being here.

Thanks for having me.

So, would you mind just starting by sharing a little bit about Special Olympics and the Unified Schools Program?

Yeah, the Unified Schools Program at Special Olympics is a worldwide initiative to get inclusion into schools. But it's much more than a program it's more of a mindset that we're trying to cultivate towards inclusion. And we're going to do that through elevating schools in inclusive youth leadership, unified sports in the whole school engagement. And we hope that when schools instill those three programs inclusion is going to skyrocket for students with and without disabilities in their school.

Amazing. And what would you say is the impact of inclusion for all students in the program?

Yeah, inclusion is not just for individuals with and without disabilities, but we're going to start there because of the discrepancies in schools. Fifty-six percent of students who have core in special education are segregated from their general education peers on average and that's a nationwide stat. And so, the impact that this program is having is simple, it's bringing those students together through sports, through leadership, and through social opportunities.

Amazing. And have you seen that there are benefits for inclusion not only for the students with disabilities, but for students without disabilities as well?

Yeah, on average about 15% of students in schools are in special education and with the unified movement weren't targeting the 100%, the 85% of students without disabilities. And so, the impact that's lasting on them is they are seeing students sometimes for the first time for their abilities rather than disabilities. And what gets us excited is what's going to happen when these students graduate, they're going to be the next doctors, they're going to be the next lawyers, they're going to be the next politicians, the entrepreneurs. They are going to shape inclusion for society as a whole and we're going to start that in schools.

Yeah, so it's really making that change on that entire school.


Level for everyone.


So, you talked a little bit about the benefits for students in the program, what would you say the ripple effect is not only on the school, but then in the community as well?

Yeah, so inclusion is going to spread outside of the clubs, outside of the sports teams, it's going to change lunchrooms and [inaudible], it's going to change hallways and how students interact. And in some cases, it's changed the physical aspect of the building, we're now -- special education we're firm believers, special education is not a classroom it's a service. And so, schools are now alternating their special education offerings to be more inclusive around the school. And so, you'll see those ripple effects in the schools. But again, once those students graduate the impact that inclusion is having on parents is huge, on lawmakers, local lawmakers, and community stakeholders is opening eyes again for individuals with disabilities and what they can do rather than what they can't do.

Yeah, it's not just this isolated change, but it's really impacting so much farther.


And so, you work with a lot of schools.


And a lot of students I have to ask, do you have a favorite story or what's your favorite kind of part about the Unified Schools Program?

My favorite part is hearing from parents and the impact that this is having on their child, specially students that have a disability. Sometimes this s the first time that a student with a disability is going over to a general education student's house because that student reached out and invited them to their birthday party or to a movie or a game night. And so, to hear that story from that parent with a disability is amazing because for 16 years they've never received that phone call, they get that phone call on the weekend because of Unified and it has changed their entire landscape and really the family dynamics as well.

That's amazing.


I'm sure you get calls like that a lot.


From parents which is really cool. So, there's a school out there and they want to get involved in a program like this, what's one thing that you would tell them?

I would say to start small. Again, it's not more so a program it's a mindset. And so, simply sitting together at lunch is huge or saying hello in the hallway that's inclusion. And so, you don't need a specific program to instill it's just that small interaction on a daily basis that will change the landscape.

So, as we wrap up this video is there anything else you want people to know about inclusion?

Yeah, I think inclusion is all about bringing people together. And so, we're firm believers, today's classrooms are tomorrow's communities and if we're not fostering inclusion in the classroom, in the hallways and the lunchrooms, then we're missing a huge opportunity for the next unified generation to bring inclusion into their lives.

I think that's an amazing takeaway for everyone watching this video. Thanks again for Nick for being on this episode of PACERTalks About Bullying. Make sure to join us right back here next week as we continue to talk about inclusion. And remember, together we can help create a world without bullying. See ya.

Additional Resources

    What are some strategies to reinforce messages of kindness, acceptance, and inclusion at a young age?

  • Peer Advocacy
    Program centered around inclusion and designed to educate students on speaking out on behalf of students with intellectual, developmental, or other disabilities. It is is a unique approach that empowers students to protect those targeted by bullying and to provide social inclusion opportunities.

  • We Will Generation 
    Movement designed to engage students to take powerful action to address bullying in schools, online, and in their communities. Bullying is an issue that directly impacts their generation and a student-centered program provides the opportunity to own the issue and to be the solution.

  • Kids Against Bullying, If You See Bullying
    If you see bullying happen, you can help stop it. How? Speak up! When kids are willing to speak up about what they think is wrong, they can make a difference. If you are willing to say that bullying is not cool, other kids will be more willing to speak up, too.